Ugandans will soon start paying tolls for using roads across the country to raise tax revenues and also pay for loans acquired to construct expensive highways, Chimp Corps report.
This came after Parliament passed the Roads Bill 2018 this week.
The passing of the bill will lead to implementation of the tolls on the Kampala-Entebbe expressway.
The expressway is currently Uganda’s only toll road with a total of three main toll plazas that boast a total of 16 toll gates.
The bill provides for among others, the prescription of tolls for toll roads that may be put in place by the Minister for Works and Transport by a statutory instrument and in consultation with the Minister for Finance.
“A toll prescribed under subsection (1) shall be a charge levied on a vehicle using a toll road for the purpose of recovering the cost of construction, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of the road,” reads the Bill in part.
It adds that the charge levied on a vehicle shall be done in accordance with the classification of vehicles set out in Schedule 6, that breaks down the types of vehicles that are liable to paying toll fees.
“A road authority [UNRA] may, in accordance with the Public Private Partnerships Act, 2015, enter into public private partnership agreement with a toll operator or concessionaire to collect toll revenue or to manage the account…” reads the Bill.
The contractor on the planned Kampala-Jinja Expressway (KJE) will use their own money to construct the road.
Once the project is complete in about five years or less depending on how fast the contractor can deliver, they will recover the money in a 30-year period from the toll fees and other funds from the project.
Just like Entebbe Expressway, the users on KJE will have to part with a certain amount of fee.
The amount to be paid will be determined by the offer from the contractor who will collect the money as part of the payment for the project contract.
However at the moment, the Road Act in Uganda does not cater for toll fees, the reason Entebbe expressway is still being used for free.
“There is need for Parliament to expedite the approval of the road bill, to provide the legal provision for tolling,” Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Executive Director, Allen Kagina noted recently.
According to Jim Mugunga who heads the PPP Unit at Ministry of Finance, the contract agreement for KJE will specify the number of traffic to go through the toll and how much each will be collected by the developer.
In case there is excess in traffic, the rest of the money will go to UNRA and in case there is less, UNRA will pay the developer the balance.
President Museveni is expected to sign the bill into law later this month.
Parliament on Thursday, 16 May 2019 approved amendments to a number of clauses and schedules in the Bill that include among others the declaration of a toll road, the prescription of tolls, the payment of road tolls, toll revenue, public-private partnerships and shadow tolling.
The chairperson of the Physical Infrastructure Committee, Hon. Kafeero Ssekitoleko said UNRA would be responsible for the effective functioning of road tolls.
“The vital role played by roads in enhancing the country’s economic development necessitates new financing methods to increase funding for construction, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of the infrastructure,” said Ssekitoleko.
The lawmaker said Government will be able to repay the private capital by charging tolls on roads, which would be paid by all road users.
The law however, provides for exemption of emergency vehicles of the fire brigade and ambulances, the presidential convoy and vehicles belonging to the military, police and other security forces on emergency duty from paying road toll fees.
The bill also provides for punishment for persons who may destroy road furniture or burn any substance that can damage a public road, with a fine of up to Shs 480, 000 or one year in prison, or both.